Celebrating Women in Crypto: 6 Iconic Leaders from 2023

On this ninth day of Cryptomas, we acknowledge the ladies who have, like holiday lights, illuminated paths for progress.

Three dolls sitting in a giftbox surrounded by many presents.
Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin

The delights of DailyCoin’s 12 Days of Cryptomas have unraveled like a dazzling ribbon of tinsel, showcasing the twinkling highlights of the cryptocurrency industry and the enchanting tales that adorned the year.

From regulatory shifts to market trends, days one to eight have unwrapped some of the greatest surprises and trying moments in crypto this year, the highs that made our hearts leap and the lows that kept investors on their toes.

As we revel in the festive cheer and ride the sleigh into the ninth day of Cryptomas, we acknowledge the women waltzing through an industry where they’re often overlooked and underrepresented despite making innovative contributions and leaving an imprint as indelible as frost on a winter morning. 

Who are the Leading Ladies leading crypto into the future?

Gender Gap In Crypto: Why Are There More Men Than Women?

Since its inception, the crypto industry has addressed core issues associated with traditional finance, ranging from decentralization to improved financial inclusion.

However, the one challenge it has not quite conquered is the participation of women, or more accurately, the lack of it.

Historically, finance has been a sector dominated by the ‘bros,’ this trend has now seamlessly transitioned into the digital space.

Statistics from 2023 revealed a disconcerting trend where women make up a significantly lower percentage of crypto investors, developers, and enthusiasts compared to their male counterparts. While a substantial 63% of crypto ownership is attributed to men, women trail behind, making up less than 37%.

But, it is not just about who holds the coins. The gender imbalance extends its tendrils into the core of leadership roles, funding allocations, and the composition of founding teams.

Little to No Crypto ‘SheEOs’

According to an April 2023 study, only three out of the top 50 CEOs in the crypto industry are women. The blockchain companies with the best female representation in leadership positions are only five, with Chainalysis taking the lead with a 46% share of female employees, followed by crypto exchange BitOasis(42%), and Coinbase, Elliptic, and Circle, all at 33.3%.

Furthermore, in entrepreneurship, women are not commonly found in business founding teams, as only 13% of Web3 startups boast a female founder. Within that group, 10% of the teams include both men and women, and only 3% of them have a team that is exclusively made up of women. 

Pie charts by Crunhbase showcasing the gap between men and women founders in crypto.
Source: BCG

Male teams achieve better success in project funding, followed by mixed teams with both men and women, while all-female teams face the greatest challenges.

Despite the overwhelming domination of men and its discriminatory implications for women’s career opportunities, a good number of women are making strides toward inclusion and steering innovative projects that mark a turning point.

Women-Led Projects in Crypto

While, for the most part, the biggest crypto projects are those founded and led by men, several power-packed initiatives have been successfully orchestrated and executed by women.

Female Non-fungible Token (NFT) creators have been instrumental in promoting gender inclusivity within the industry. Projects like World of Women (WoW), Alpha Girl Club, and Women Tribe have garnered significant success across the industry, exemplifying the innovative contributions of women. 

In addition, initiatives, including Women in Blockchain Talks by Lavina Osborne and the non-profit organization Cryptochicks, provide mentorship and education to catalyze inclusiveness.

Beyond these, a group of visionary women is orchestrating major changes within the industry, breaking through barriers to shine in the spotlight.

Influential Women In Crypto

In no particular order, the following women have led the crypto industry by example, fostering a culture that values diversity. They are advocates for gender equality in the cryptocurrency industry, dedicated to providing women with increased opportunities.

1. Cathie Wood

Cathie Wood.
Source: LinkedIn

Profile Highlights

  • Crypto Investor.
  • Founder and CEO of Ark Invest.
  • Investment Advisor.

Cathie Wood is an American investor renowned for her innovative investment strategies in disruptive technologies, particularly related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. With a bachelor of science degree in finance and economics and years of experience in traditional finance, Wood advocates blockchain-driven innovation.

In 2014, Wood founded Ark Invest, an investment firm that manages exchange-traded funds and offers investment solutions to investors seeking long-term growth. Ark Invest was one of the financial institutions to recognize the potential of the crypto space and invest in Bitcoin (BTC) in its early days. The firm has invested in numerous cryptocurrency assets and blockchain-based companies, reiterating her commitment to the industry.

Known for her vocal insights on the potential of crypto assets and blockchain technology to significantly transform the financial landscape, Wood has gained attention and influence across the crypto industry. Currently, she is CEO and Chief Investment Officer at Ark Invest, which is valued at over $60 billion.

2. Elizabeth Stark- Lightning Labs

Profile Highlights

  • CEO of Lightning Labs.
  • Open-Internet Advocate.
  • Blockchain educator.

Elizabeth Stark, synonymous with the Bitcoin lightning network development company Lighting Labs, is one of the most influential women in the cryptocurrency industry, boasting over a decade of experience.

Stark is the co-founder and CEO of Lightning Labs, which focuses on building faster, cheaper, and global layer-two bitcoin solutions. Since its inception in 2016, Lightning Labs has remained committed to enhancing scalability and efficiency in blockchain transactions, aiming to enhance the usability and adoption of Bitcoin.

Stark is a vocal advocate for an open internet and has contributed to the Bitcoin community by lending her expertise as an advisor to startups across various domains, spanning cryptocurrency to decentralized technology. At the helm of her company, she spearheaded the development of a programmable financial layer solution, which offers enhanced blockchain scalability to advance the capabilities of blockchain technology.

Her influence extends beyond boardrooms into academia, where she is committed to sharing knowledge on peer-to-peer technology, privacy, and open-source software. She advocates for inclusivity in the blockchain ecosystem, emphasizing the importance of diverse voices and perspectives in shaping the burgeoning industry’s future.

3. Gracy Chen

Gracy Chen.
Source: LinkedIn

  

Profile Highlights

  • Managing Director of Bitget.
  • Cryptocurrency Enthusiast.
  • Advocate For Gender Inclusivity.

Gracy Chen ventured into the crypto industry in 2014 as a passionate enthusiast and investor driven by the ecosystem’s decentralized nature and transformative technology.

Formerly a graduate of the National University of Singapore, with an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she previously founded technology startup ReigVR.

Speaking to DailyCoin, Chen highlighted the gender bias and challenges she experienced in her early days as a founder. 

“During my time as CMO for my fintech startup, I was the only female partner out of ten. That left me with a lot of questions regarding whether I was worthy. Do I really belong at this table with all these guys? Is it because I'm just a pretty girl? So I had a so-called imposter syndrome’” she stated.

Chen underscored the prevalent bias against women, particularly those who make career commitments at the expense of family.


“For example, when I was raising capital for my own company a few years ago, a VC said to me bluntly, “Gracy, we like your project, but we don’t invest that much in female entrepreneurs, especially those who just got married and haven’t had kids yet.” That was my life stage at the time. Therefore, I think there is a bias towards women sacrificing their career for their families,” she said.

Despite the challenges, she persevered, turning the obstacles into a passion for initiatives to bridge the gap and eliminate prejudice. 

Today, Chen is the Managing Director of the crypto exchange Bitget, where she plays a key role in overseeing global expansion and business development. Under her leadership, Bitget has become the largest crypto copy trading platform globally, boasting a 20 million user base and a daily trading volume exceeding 10 billion USD.

Chen highlighted some of her greatest moments as a leader in Bitget, emphasizing her role in spearheading key initiatives. One notable achievement was orchestrating strategic partnerships with prominent figures, including soccer superstar Lionel Messi.

“At Bitget, we saw parallels between Messi’s path and our own as a startup founded during the 2018 bear market,” she stated. The collaboration elevated Bitget’s visibility and offered the exchange a platform to convey the industry’s potential to a broader audience, which influenced other exchanges, including Binance, to facilitate similar collaborations.

Chen believes women shouldn’t be afraid of stepping up to leadership positions and encourages “lifelong” dedication to knowledge acquisition. She currently heads a team of 40% female employees, demonstrating her commitment to promoting gender inclusivity and creating opportunities for more women within the industry. 

In her words, “Crypto is a fast-evolving industry. It changes every day and lots of big news is happening on a daily basis. My first piece of advice would be to read, get educated, and update yourself – basically be a lifelong learner.”

And Chen’s advice to women inspired by the path she took? Simple:
“Forget your gender, just work on your competitive edge and deliver the result!”

4. Arianna Simpson 

Profile Highlights 

  • Venture Capitalist and Entrepreneur.
  • General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).
  • Cryptocurrency Investor.

Ariana Simpson is one of the women who has solidified their reputation in the industry through a profound understanding of cryptocurrency and blockchain, coupled with astute strategic investments. 

She is an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist and serves as a general partner at New York-based investment management firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). A16z is a venture firm that invests in cryptocurrency and blockchain protocols, shaping the industry through innovative projects and participation in funding rounds.

Before venturing into crypto, Simpson was a global marketing solutions officer at Facebook and contributed to developing multi-signature fintech company BitGo. 

Ariana Simpson’s influence extends beyond her investment activities, and she is regarded as one of the most successful cryptocurrency investors.

The thirty-year-old founded Autonomous Partners, an investment fund focused on cryptocurrencies and digital assets.

5. Simone Maini

Simone Maini.
Source: LinkedIn

Profile Highlights 

  • CEO of Elliptic.
  • Advocate For Gender Equality.
  • Financial Crime Prevention Expert.

Cybersecurity is one of the most crucial sectors of the cryptocurrency industry, and it is important to highlight women actively contributing to the playing field. 

Simone Maini advocates for financial crime prevention and is currently the chief operating officer at Elliptic, a blockchain cybersecurity firm. 

Elliptic is well-known for utilizing blockchain analytics to address financial crime concerns and ensure compliance within the industry. The firm has unveiled key criminal patterns within the industry, including the FTX $477 million hacker trail and the notorious North Korean-backed hacker group Lazarus.  

Before Maini’s current role, the Cambridge graduate served in senior roles in the investment banking industry, including the position of Director of Product Strategy and Innovation at risk solutions company Kroll. 

Beyond her professional achievements, Simone is a leading voice for gender balance in the crypto industry. Her advocacy extends to promoting and supporting more inclusivity and empowerment for women. According to Maini, the attributes of digital currencies make them a relevant investment option for women, as they hold the potential to enhance their access to assets and empower them with greater control over their financial resources. 

Maini asserts the importance of more women participating in crypto, not only as users but also as creators, emphasizing women’s multifaceted roles in shaping the future of the growing industry. 

6. Laura Shin

Laura Shin.
Source: LinkedIn

Profile Highlights 

  • Cryptocurrency Journalist.
  • Author.
  • Podcast and Webinar Host.

While many remarkable women mentioned earlier are leading the charge as creators and executives within the cryptocurrency industry, some, like Laura Shin, are exploring many career paths.

Shin is a researcher and journalist specializing in Bitcoin, Ethereum, NFTs, DeFi, and more. She previously was a senior reporter at Forbes, focusing exclusively on unraveling the intricacies of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Shin’s journey continued as a technical writer at publications like the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. 

Beyond her role as a journalist, Shin is the author of several books that offer a comprehensive exploration of the complexities of the crypto industry, and she further shares her expertise by hosting podcasts and webinars that educate cryptocurrency investors and enthusiasts.

Shin shares daily crypto updates and events across social media platforms and contributes to the industry in ways that extend beyond professional crypto journalism. 

On the Flipside

  • Women suffer from severe imposter syndrome, and the technology industry may be perceived as intimidating.
  • The cryptocurrency industry was birthed from the fusion of sectors with minimal female contribution, technology, and finance. However, progress is possible and imperative with a strategic approach and collective effort. 
  • Opportunities in the crypto industry are highly inclusive, and increasing gender equality would not only open up new career options for women but also bring positive changes to crypto’s culture and increase its innovativeness.

Why This Matters

Beyond mere representation and social equilibrium, gender diversity will catalyze a broader range of perspectives and ideas, which can lead to more innovative and effective solutions for the crypto industry. Ignoring the current imbalance risks perpetuating biases that have historically existed in the traditional financial system, hindering the true potential of a more inclusive and equitable world.

FAQs

What are some gender-based challenges in crypto? 

Gender stereotypes and biases can contribute to an unwelcoming environment within the industry, further affecting career progression and inclusion.

Who are some top female crypto influencers? 

The number of women influencing the crypto space is gradually increasing, and among those thriving in this field are Layah Heilpern, Rachel Siegel, and Altcoin Sara.

Who holds the most Bitcoin?

The pseudonym of the founder(s) of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is the largest holder of Bitcoin, with about 1.1 million BTC tokens across approximately 22,000 different addresses.

Check out day 8 of our 12 Days of Cryptomas series for some great Crypto gift ideas:
Crypto Christmas Gifts: 8 Gift Ideas for the Silly Season
In a year of revival for the leading cryptos, we look back at how 2023 treated the top 10:
Lords of the Blockchain: The Top 10 Cryptocurrencies in 2023

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Author
Grace Abidemi

Grace Abidemi, a cryptocurrency reporter at DailyCoin, covers industry developments and trends. She previously worked as a freelance writer. With a Bachelor's degree in German Language and certifications in marketing and storytelling, Grace creates engaging content. When not working, she's in Nigeria, mastering cooking and canvas painting, and enjoys learning about different cultures and languages.